Whole30 for a kid who hates protein


Cadence

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We're on our third day of Whole30 in our home and I'm LOVING it. I'm trying to bring the kids on board with me and we've successfully cut sugar, dairy, and grains but my five year old will NOT eat meat or eggs and I don't know what to do. He's a really good fruit and veggie eater, but turns his nose up at most proteins. Pre Whole30 I usually just cooked him a big batch of legumes to eat at meal time when the rest of the family ate meat, but that's not going to work now. I keep telling him to "pretend" he likes meat and eggs, but it's not working :P Any suggestions? I've tried to explain how much his body needs the good stuff that meat and eggs have in them, but he's not convinced. Help!

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Hey Candence,

When I was slowly transitioning my family to eating better years ago (Pre-Whole 30) I bought wheat bread for their sandwiches instead of white...they refused to eat sandwiches for 3 MONTHS! I held my ground & after 3 months they came around & then preferred the wheat over white. My point is it often takes a kid more than a dozen times to try something before they realize they might like it. It takes a lot of patients and persistence to get our kids to switch to better eating habits. A few suggestions would be let him help you pick out new proteins to try at the grocery store, have him help you prepare it (most kids love to help in the kitchen) make a one bite rule (be strict with this) One bite of the protein at every meal, he can wash it down with a drink if he has to but at least one bite. Don't substitute for him & just continue to put it on his plate. Try meat on skewers (got to love food on a stick :)) and eggs in muffin tins.

Hope this helps, good luck :)

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Thanks Brenda. This has actually been an ongoing fight for years, we've just been offering substitutes. I know. Not the best solution. But you can only deal with so many screaming tantrums over a piece of chicken on a plate before you go into survival mode. It's not just a dislike for meat and eggs. It's bordering on a phobia. But only when when it's home cooked. Because he has no problem eating a burger or chicken nuggets/fingers at a fast food joint. I've tried all the tricks. Letting him pick recipes out with me. Telling him he can pick whatever meat he wants (he chose bacon). Getting him working in the kitchen. All fruitless. I'm just keeping my fingers crossed that by the end of the 30 days, when he realizes there are no beans, or sandwiches, or bowls of oatmeal, he'll come around. I'm determined to be strong this time!!

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Cadence,

My kids have gone through "no-protein-at-all-ever" phases, too, but it's never been as intense as what it sounds like you're working with. What are the chances that this is a control battle? From what you've said, his issue isn't with the taste or texture of meat. It sounds like his issue may be with you asking him to (or in his mind, making him) eat something he doesn't particularly want to. Kids at that age are continually exploring their autonomy, discovering that they are in control of their own minds and bodies and learning that we, as parents, cannot read their minds or move their bodies. These seemingly random exercises of will come and go and take some really interesting forms.

I suggest a little experiment: Give him a week of no nagging, no forcing, no rules. If he eats fruits and veggies well, let him load up. Fill him full of whatever fats he'll eat. Take the pressure off and don't even address the issue. But, don't take him to any restaurants either. He eats what you've cooked - protein or no. Just see how he reacts. If you want, you can cook some of the proteins he normally enjoys other places but don't ask him to eat them. (Don't restrict them, just don't bring it up.) There's a chance that, once he sees that you respect his autonomy, he'll choose to partake with you. If he doesn't, then you can start working through some other plans. At the very least, though, you'll get some fight-free meals under your belt and it will help return the sanity we so very much need as parents.

The guiding principle I use with my girls is this: As a parent, I can control what they eat in my home. But life is so much more than being told what to do. I want my girls to learn how to eat - what, when, why - and (IMHO) deciding what goes into their mouths is a part of that.

Hope this helps you!

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Reneé - Sometimes I can get away with it, but he usually picks around the meat.

Robin - That is fantastic advice! It is definitely a control issue (he has them in other areas as well - something we're working on addressing). I'm so concerned with making sure he's getting all the right nutrients that it often turns into a battle of wills. I'm looking forward to a few pleasant meal-times :)

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